Grand Haven's student publication of community significance since 1927

Cut the FLAB

June 6, 2019

Let me pose a question: how do you, or do you not, maintain your physical well-being? Is it through exercising or dieting? Maybe you’ve been blessed with an extremely high metabolism. However you preserve your body, you make a conscious effort to do so or not. But what about your mental health?

How do you, or do you not, remain mentally healthy? The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual…can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively,…and make a contribution to his or her community”. Maybe you don’t ever think about how your head is feeling, or just don’t think it’s that big of a deal.

But I can tell you, surely, that both mental and physical health matter and are related; how you treat your body affects your head and vice versa. People need to make an effort to be conscious about this relationship

A study conducted from January 1, 2001 to December 31, 2011 studied the link between mental disorders and chronic physical conditions. The authors concluded “that mental disorders of all kinds are associated with an increased risk of onset of a wide range of chronic physical conditions”. That could potentially spell good, or bad news for different people.

For example, a person with a depressive disorder was found to be at “increased odds of subsequent onset of arthritis.” While “depression…and alcohol abuse were associated with all 10 physical conditions [observed during the study]; bipolar disorder, social phobia, intermittent explosive disorder, and alcohol dependence were associated with 9 of 10 physical conditions”.

Bottom line: a person’s mental state can have a great impact on the rest of their physical state.

With that in mind, all people should make an effort to be more conscious about how they treat their heads and their bodies. Maintaining mental and physical health will look different for all people.

For me, I make an effort everyday to get a workout in, typically a run, and to make sure I regulate both my food and water intakes. Additionally, I spend 5-10 minutes in reflection. I usually take this time to do my daily devotion.

One of the great things about living in today’s world is the ability to share personal moments with friends nearly instantaneously through social media, and whether you’re a fan of it or not, there is no denying it is a major influencer, especially among younger individuals.

A study constructed by John A. Naslund, Ph.D., a professor at Harvard Medical School, found that there is a potential for people to benefit from what is called peer-to-peer support online and on social media.

“Within online communities, individuals with serious mental illness could challenge stigma through personal empowerment and providing hope,” Naslund wrote. “By learning from peers online, these individuals may gain insight about important health care decisions, which could promote mental health care seeking behaviours”.

Consequently, the need for civil discourse between individuals with mental illnesses online and in person serves a necessary function in setting people back down a track of recovery.

Perhaps you can set some goals for yourself: meditate for a few minutes right before you go to bed, spend some time in a good book tonight for 20 minutes, or go for a run through a park, but whatever you do, don’t lose hope if you’re someone who struggles or suffers from a mental or physical sickness. There are people and organizations that can help you get back on the right track to living your best life. Today.

In the end, your mental health and physical health are linked. Make sure to remain cognizant of both, and challenge yourself to be better.

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